Australian Space Forum
What a giant week for Australian space with just about every state trying to outdo each other with announcements! I headed to the 9th Australian Space Forum at Adelaide which coincided with the official launch of the Australian Space Agency headquarters. One thing that blew me away was the number of prearranged meetings between manufacturers outside of the Forum. It’s an undeniably positive sign that companies and other organisations are collaborating and that things are looking up for our local space sector.
It’s always a delight to visit a multigenerational family business that’s thinking hard about how to extend a rich history. Zilzie are a well-known and highly-successful winemaker just south of Mildura, operating at an impressive scale. It makes sense that they’re looking to increase their efficiency by increasingly adopting Industry 4.0-style technologies across their operations.
There are stacks of excellent manufacturers on the Sunshine Coast. Helimods is just one of them. They’re based at Caloundra Airport, and really impressed me with how enthusiastically they’re adopting things like VR and 3D scanning to boost their capability and grow. High-tech, high-skilled operation doing heli fitouts for defence, police, rescue and other sectors, and reaching international markets based on superiority. We love to see it!
Riviera is celebrating its 40th anniversary year, and it was fantastic to visit the site where they build their luxury motor yachts for the global market. Riviera has a strong, high-quality brand, and is one of a few boat builders among our 1,000-plus members. Looking forward to returning there soon to talk about our Manufacturing Academy and how our research might help Riviera as it grows and upskills its workforce.
Always a great time catching up with Ty, the tycoon behind Evolve Group. The only issue is it’s hard to keep up with all the work they’re juggling, including in pool construction, recycled plastic support systems for decking, and the Seabin Project. A visit to Evolve reminds you of what’s possible for Australian manufacturing: success through design and investment in new technology, reshoring jobs, and grabbing export opportunities.
Black Sky Aerospace
A joy to get out to launch business Black Sky Aerospace, just one day before its rocket motor test with the UK’s Raptor Aerospace. Launch is one of the major bottlenecks for our many space industry hopefuls realising their dreams, and Black Sky is hard at work on the problem. Look out for their upcoming collaborative project which AMGC is proudly supporting.
Graphene Manufacturing Group
Graphene is the sort-of-new “wonder-material” that seems to be a bit of a swiss army knife: potentially useful in countless applications. Not many companies have made it commercially useful, but GMG are well on the way. It was fascinating to hear from their leadership team about the many collaborations they have underway with industry and researchers to make the most of the world’s strongest and most heat conductive material. GMG is well on the way to revolutionising paints, lubricants, battery materials and more with graphene.
Norweld up in Cairns makes trays and canopies for utes. They’ve gotten a bit of a following in the States and elsewhere. They’ve got fans everywhere, and you can see pics on Norweld’s ‘insta’ of their gear being enjoyed all over the place – beaches on Stradbroke Island, the streets of Riyadh, next to an elephant somewhere in Africa, and around the USA. Their American following is so keen Norweld has started a separate page just for US builds. They tell me Insta is bringing in the sales leads, too. Manufacturers, take note.
It’s a rare treat to visit a candle factory, especially one as clever as these guys. Endless Candles is growing impressively and has partnered with some very big names. It was fascinating to learn about their new patent for mixing wax and fragrances, their new work on insect repellents in candles, and that the Queenslanders courted the company to move there, but manufacture wouldn’t be a good match for the heat and humidity further north.
Loved my visit to catch up with Rod and Nicole at Davidson Engineering! The Davo’s Fencing Clip shows that great design is often deceptively simple. The clip and screw product is saving heaps of time and improving safety versus fence staples, and they can’t get product out the door fast enough. The packaging design is super-clever and turns straight into a toolbox. These guys have a great idea plus eager fans, so are making the most of both through social media. I will keep saying it: manufacturers, get on Facebook, Insta, Linkedin, Twitter and tell your story.
What an incredible little company! Gold Coast’s Ryan Aerospace designs and builds helicopter flight simulators and sells them all over the world. Ryan is developing first-in-the-world virtual reality and other tech to make training safer and more effective, and demand is hot. Last year they won the state’s Exporter of the Year in the small business category after a contract to supply simulators to the US Army in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Top EV Racing
One of the many perks of this job is meeting highly-ambitious makers. The fellow on my right, Top EV Racing founder Michael Fragomeni, certainly doesn’t lack ambition. His moonshot is “solar super-charged” electric-powered dragsters going at world record speeds. The kicker? They will not just beat nitro-burning Top Fuel vehicles, but approach 612 kilometres per hour, or half the speed of sound. The Apollo program brought us spinoffs including better water filters, fire-resistant materials, and home insulation. Who knows what Top EV and its innovations arm HyperPower Technologies will deliver? We’re all pretty keen to find out. Good on you, Michael.